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News in Numbers: The First Rule of the Remote Working Club Is Being Broken, Our Size and Productivity Are Increasing
The first rule of the remote working club is being broken. What’s the first rule of the remote work club? No, it’s not Fight Club’s “we don’t talk about” the remote work club. The “First Things Rule” refers to the first thing we thought was necessary for efficiently and productively working remotely. I say ‘thought’ because we know a lot more about working from home now than we did six months ago.
Basically, the “First Things Rule” says that before starting your remote workday, you should shower, shave, get dressed, etc. In a nutshell, you should prepare yourself as if you were going to the office. Pre-pandemic, the rule was regarded as essential to being a productive remote worker.
Of course, now, after four months of a massive remote work experiment, our understanding of remote work is much different. One casualty is that rule. Despite productivity increasing or at least staying the same, remote workers are not preparing for their remote workday in the same way as going to the office.
In a recent poll released by NPD, a market research group, only 10% of remote workers are getting completely dressed at the beginning of the day. Of course, if you are working remotely, you probably already know this. You may have also seen the New Zealand councilor who was caught without his pants on during a Zoom meeting or the reporter who was seen on ‘Good Morning America’ with a suit coat on but no pants.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. Generally, our style of clothing and habits (or lack of them) for getting dressed have undergone a transformation during the first half of 2020. There are a variety of reasons for this. Here are some interesting facts to consider that shed some light on why this happening:
- Dress shoes, both men’s and women’s, have seen a substantial dip in sales. Specifically, women’s high heels and Oxfords and loafers for men have seen steep declines. “Really, the dress shoe business, in general, is under pressure,” John Idol, CEO of Capri Holdings, which owns fashion giants Jimmy Choo, Versace, and Michael Kors, recently said.
- Business suits and swimsuits are out and activewear, loungewear, pajamas, and sweatpants are in. In fact, at Lively, loungewear has seen a 200% increase in sales since the beginning of March. Michelle Grant, the founder of Lively, said the change happened quickly. “Loungewear, kind of suddenly, became the most important category for us, by far,” she said. “So we immediately began working to make sure it was supported. We’ve been shifting our supply chain, shifting our content and marketing, all of it to focus on the people who are sheltering and working at home.”
- ‘Zoom shirts’ are now a thing. It’s probably self-explanatory, but a ‘Zoom shirt’ is a shirt you keep on the back of your chair so that it’s always ready in case of a Zoom meeting or video conference. According to a poll by LinkedIn, 42% of respondents said they owned one.
- Generally, tops are selling better than bottoms. Walmart sold more tops than bottoms during the first quarter of 2020, and ‘shirts’ as a search term on Google is performing better than it has in the previous 12 months. Another statistic that you’ll think way too much about? Almost half of Americans, 47%, don’t always have pants on when working at home.
Of course, it stands to reason that we would dress more simply and less formally if we don’t have to go into the office. However, these changes aren’t just happening because we now prefer comfort and function over style and fashion. Since the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, the size of our bodies has also been changing. A few more facts to consider:
- Some people are eating more snacks and sweets while staying at home, so they’re packing on the pounds. Others, with more time to work out at home, are dropping weight. No matter the case, people are showing up at stores unsure of their size and, whether online or in-person, buying clothes that fit their new reality. Marc Rosen, president of Levi Strauss Americas, confirmed this to the AP. “Anecdotally, we’re seeing shoppers come back into stores unsure of their size. ... For most, it’s been a long time since they’ve tried on a pair of jeans, and they may be up or down a size.”
- People either won’t be able to or don’t plan on returning to their pre-pandemic work out routine, so these fluctuations in weight are probably here to stay. Many gyms have been forced to close during the pandemic. At the same time, a survey published by online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade shows that 59% of Americans say they won’t be renewing their gym memberships even after the pandemic is over.
- Body measuring apps and technology companies are also noticing people adjusting their sizes in their profiles. Perfitly LLC said they saw a 20% increase in users rentering their sizes in April and May when compared to the same time in 2019.
So, we know for certain that the surge in remote working is changing our choices, sizes, and styles when it comes to clothing and shoes. Although we’re still early in this international experiment, we also know the change to 100% remote work was often easier for companies than previously predicted, and, in many cases, productivity actually went up.
- Prodoscore, a technology company based in California, released a study showing a 47% increase in productivity this year when compared to 2019. The study included 100 million data points from 30,000 Prodoscore users. “The common assumption is that remote workers are less productive than those who are in a traditional office. But our ability to capture, integrate, and analyze workplace data shows otherwise,” said Crisantos Hajibrahim, chief product officer at Prodoscore."
- In a company-wide survey conducted in July, LiveChat (full disclosure: I work there) found that 90.5% of its workers said they thought their productivity was better or at least as good when compared to working in the office. LiveChat went fully remote in early March with little notice and recently announced, even with the office now open with some restrictions, this change will become permanent.
While the jury will likely be out concerning the cumulative effects of working from home, so far, the transition has gone smoothly. Which, given that remote work isn’t going to go away anytime soon, is a good thing.